Category: South Side Slopes

  • Dome of St. Josaphat Church, South Side Slopes

    Dome of St. Josaphat Church

    The distinctive dome of St. Josaphat Church, designed by John T. Comès, as seen from the Flats below.

  • W. Daub Building, South Side Slopes

    W. Daub Building

    This frame Second Empire building was put up in the 1880s, and old maps show it as belonging to W. Daub. It has seen better days: it has been sheathed in aluminum, and what was probably a storefront looks as though it has been filled in with a contractor’s remnants. If we look at the third floor, we can see a few lingering bits of what was once very decorative folk-art woodwork. Doubtless all the windows and doorways had similarly carved trim until the siding salesman came along. If old Pa Pitt had to guess, he would imagine this was a neighborhood hotel, which is to say a bar with rooms above to earn a “hotel” liquor license. You would hardly guess from the exterior, but there is still a working bar on the ground floor, apparently much beloved by the locals.

    Carved wood
    Dormer
    Oblique view
  • Power House for the Mount Oliver Incline

    Mount Oliver Incline power house

    Most Pittsburghers with an interest in local history know that there were many inclines operating in the city a hundred years ago. Few know that part of the Mount Oliver Incline is still here. The incline itself closed in 1951, and the stations are gone, but the power house, which was across Warrington Avenue from the upper station, still stands. It has been converted into a shop for a heating and air-conditioning contractor.

    Mount Oliver Street side
    Warrington Avenue end

    Map.

  • Mary L. Bayer House, South Side Slopes

    Just about every ugly thing that can happen to an old house has happened to this once-grand Second Empire mansion on the back end of Warrington Avenue. It has been sheathed in artificial siding. All the windows have been replaced with windows and doors in the wrong shapes. Almost all the trim has been removed (if you enlarge the picture, you can find a tiny remnant in the pediment over the front entrance). The porch has been replaced with treated lumber, which manufacturers assure us never has to be painted and therefore is always allowed to decay into even uglier colors than it was originally. The front entrance has been replaced with cheap doors from a home center.

    Yet, with all that, there is still a pleasing symmetry to the house that gives it a kind of senescent dignity. At present, it stands in a nice working-class neighborhood where houses are worthless, or at least not worth enough to make any substantial work on this one profitable. But it has a magnificent view of the city, and if someone with a little money were to adopt it, it could be remade into an attractive single-family mansion again, or a more attractive apartment house.

    Old Pa Pitt does not know the history of this house. On the Pittsburgh Historic Maps site, it first appears on the 1890 layer, suggesting that it was built in the 1880s. From then until 1923, it is marked as belonging to Mary L. Bayer or M. L. Bayer.

  • Skyline from the South Side Slopes

    Skyline from the South Side Slopes

    The skyline of downtown Pittsburgh as seen from the back end of Warrington Avenue on the South Side Slopes.

    Skyline with more Slopes
    Slightly wider view
  • St. Josaphat’s in Black and White

    Two attempts at arty photography with the old Samsung Digimax V4 set on monochrome mode. We also have more ordinary color pictures of St. Josaphat’s.

  • St. Josaphat’s War Memorial, South Side Slopes

    A memorial to the large number from St. Josaphat’s who served in both World Wars. It stands across the narrow street from the church, set into the hillside, with a statue of Christ displaying his Sacred Heart and welcoming us to stop and read the names. As you can guess from the names if you enlarge the picture, St. Josaphat’s was a Polish congregation.

    Statue of Christ
    Art Deco eagle
  • Houses on the South Side Slopes

    Improbable houses on the Slopes, with a view of Oakland in the background.

  • St. Michael’s Convent and Orphan Asylum, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael’s Convent and Orphan Asylum

    The line between painted and unpainted on this long building is an artifact of its history. For most of its life this building was divided in two parts: the painted part was the convent, and the unpainted part the orphan asylum. More recently it has been a Franciscan retreat center known as the Burning Bush House of Prayer, whose somewhat archaic site tells us that the building was put up “in three stages, from 1887 to 1889.”

    Oblique view
  • St. Josaphat Church, South Side Slopes

    St. Josaphat

    John T. Comès, one of our best ecclesiastical architects, accepted the challenge of an almost impossible site and came up with this distinctive design for a Polish parish. It was built between 1909 and 1916.

    According to the South Side Slopes site, “The church closed permanently after a section of ceiling collapsed about the casket of the last caretaker during his funeral mass.” This is the sort of detail a novelist would invent and then throw out as too implausible for a sophisticated audience.

    Tower
    Tower
    Entrance
    Relief
    Romanesque ornament
    Dome
    Rear